Providing fine art to collectors, museums, corporations, and the trade since 1977.
Specializing in rare 18th - 20th Century Japanese Woodblock Prints
Notes: Removed from original S. Watanabe folder. The left margin is fully deckled and the irregular edge is a product of the original Hosho sheet.
Provenance: Purchased from S. H. Mori in Chicago, mid-1930s. Three generations in an American family collection.
Shinsui's 1917, "Eight Views of Omi" is arguably the most significant print series the artist ever published, more challenging and more influential than his large body of bijinga prints. He made four earlier landscape prints, but those efforts do not really suggest the overhaul of that genre he would introduce in this small aiban-format series (Eight Views of Omi).
During the early 1900's, the publisher Watanabe Shozuburo instituted the third major revolution in the Japanese landscape print. A great admirer of both Hiroshige and Kiyochika, he decided to revive, and to reinvent, that tradition. In the process, he forcefully encouraged his artists to produce a distinctly new vision of the Japanese landscape even as it was informed but the models of previous masters. He wanted his firm's prints to be resolutely Japanese, but he also desired them to demonstrate an open-ended dialogue with the West. He experimented by commissioning two Western artists, Fritz Capelari and Charles Bartlett, but Ito Shinsui was the first artist to understand fully the publisher's vision. - Water and Shadow, Kendall Brown; pg. 35
Ito Shinsui was born Ito Hajime in Tokyo, he was forced to seek work at age 10, due to an impoverished family. He was hired by the Tokyo Printing Company and earned an apprenticeship at age 14. He studied with Kaburagi Kiyokata and attended night school at the same time. Kiyokata gave him his own artist's name, "Shinsui". In 1916 Watanabe Shozaburo discovered his talent, and they collaborated on prints for the next 25 years. Watanabe exported hundreds of Shinsui prints, generating great success for them both. Shinsui's early landscape series, Eight Views of Lake Biwa inspired Kawase Hasui. His early bijin-ga are generally considered his finest works. In 1952 his woodblock designing skill was designated as an Intangible Cultural Property. In 1958 he was appointed to the Japan Art Academy and in 1970 was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun.